The Slowdown: Poetry & Reflection Daily


Poet Major Jackson is your guide on the pathways to feel and understand our common journey – through poetry. In sharing poems, we take a moment to pause and acknowledge the world’s magnitude, and how poets illuminate that mystery. Join The Slowdown for a poem and a moment of reflection in one short episode, every weekday. Produced by APM Studios in partnership with The Poetry Foundation and supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Slowdown is your daily poetry ritual. Make us a part of your routine as you drink coffee in the morning, as you take a walk in nature, or as you wind down to go to sleep in the evening. With host Major Jackson, we collectively take a moment to calm, to inspire, to learn, and to engage with the best emerging poets and established writers of our time and generations past, from Emily Dickinson to Danez Smith, from Amanda Gorman to Mary Oliver.

Listen to our back catalog for episodes by our previous hosts, Tracy K. Smith and Ada Limón, as well as guest hosts Jenny Xie, Brenda Shaughnessy, Tina Chang, Nate Marshall, Shira Erlichiman, and Jason Schneiderman. Our hosts and production team select poems that move them, and we hope they move you, too.

Recent Episodes
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Recent Reviews
  • Invent Boston
    Love it
    Love being read the poems they choose.
  • Houston 66
    No matter the host, a job well done
    I’ve listened to all three hosts insights prior to each reading. All have an insight that gives the poem more meaning. I barely thought of poetry prior to listening to this podcast. Thanks for opening my mind.
  • madi3h
    Could there be some clarity on format? I’m confused when the host is reading his own thoughts or the poem. I’m a new listener and I feel like there’s some inside knowledge here to understand what’s going on? I feel like I would love this if I understood what I was listening to.
  • Snibblers
    Okay poems but it’s the setups,
    The quadruple skip to start the program should get you past the obligatory Nissan Ariya ad + de jour ad; it’s the same format every day, at least when Tracy or Ada did it they would occasionally start the program with their voice, or something other than predictable ads. Jackson just feels like a less enthusiastic host and when paired with the idiosyncratic ads just being plugged and played, it feels drastically lazier than it’s Limon and K Smith led counterparts. It happens.
  • BigReadingLife
    I loved Ada Limon as host, and I am enjoying Major Jackson as the new host as well. It’s a great way to get poetry in on the regular. Sometimes a poem takes my breath away.
  • htth91
    One of my favorites
    I love this show for the minutes of respite it provides me from the world. So I am bummed about the ads at the top of the show, though I know you gotta make money, it does take away from the experience.
  • songbird4799
    Thrilled this show is back, and with Major Jackson!!
    This show is my favorite daily ritual, and I’m so pleased that Major Jackson has joined the lineage of amazing hosts! I love the way this show makes poetry accessible, and I really appreciate the host’s commentary. Kudos to the production team!
  • DogLoverMartha
    Sometimes this is the best part of my day
    Ada and Tracy are both gorgeous poets and beautiful celebrators of others’ work. Take the time to listen. It’s healing.
  • Karen DHD
    Ada doesn’t have large feet, but still her shoes will be hard to fill.
  • EyeDoc86
    Ada Limón is the best!
    Love listening to Ada. Her voice and the way she articulates the poetry she reads is so unique. She will definitely be missed.
  • jaywasheldc
    Guest host Shira Erlichman
    I’m a longtime listener of The Slowdown, so when consummate host and poet Ada Limon announced she’d be going on vacation this August, I found myself dreading her upcoming absence. Turns out, however, there was nothing but delight in store as Shira Erlichman stepped in as guest host. Her soulful delivery quickly became the portal to my morning meditations and sent me down multiple rabbit holes in search of more work by the poets she so skillfully introduced. Suffice it to say I will miss her when she goes and hope The Slowdown will consider bringing her back as a more permanent contributor to this excellent show.
  • question things
    My Take
    The intros to poems are poetic as well!
  • al's shadow
    Poems first.
    I would enjoy each listen - hearing the poem, first! I do enjoy Ms. Limon’s voice, explanations, etc - it would all work best, after hearing the poems. MSS/España, EU
  • K.C.22
    Meditative moments
    Such a nice way to hear many poets’ voices
  • J Aldridge
    A requisite for good days
    For me, this show is a great concept corrector for the start of my days. Love this show, and you will too.
  • rpb139
    Start of my Day
    A few moments each morning and I can bring a bit more attention to the rest of the day Ada Limon has a wonderful voice and her introduction to each poem helps give a better sense of what’s to come
  • Jess M F
    Daily injection of beauty
    A lovely change of pace from my usual round up of podcasts. Relaxing, inspiring, thoughtful. Pressing “play” in and of itself is a recommitment to a life of wonder and delight.
  • Corrine63
  • Saraintheclouds
    For all the buried voices
    Ada’s intro to “Sligo Abbey” was poetry itself, for ex: “Sometimes the job of the poet is to listen and sometimes it is to become the unburied voice” Thanks for the podcast xx
  • Midwest Meditator
    Not Dandelion Wine
    Ada sent me on a wild goose chase for a story by Ray Bradbury about the wind that wanted to kill a man, which she says she read in the 8th grade in his book “Dandelion Wine.” But that’s a memoir, not a book of stories! Now I'm wondering where I can find that story. Very frustrating, considering he wrote and published hundreds of them. I hope her other references are fact-checked. Otherwise, this is a very nice podcast about poetry — although I prefer those that simply present the poem without any preface by someone other than the poet.
  • Mrs.W 2008
    Thankful for this calming and beautiful way to start the day.
  • Jimmyjimjim!
    I really enjoyed today’s thought-provoking poem. Thanks!
  • sydneysmom2020
    Your calm voice helps me relax, thank you. The content keeps me entertained and engaged. It’s a welcome distraction to my stressful day. 😀
  • flowerlover33
    Love this podcast
    Started listening recently and Ada is fantastic. Poems are gorgeous. Much needed balm during this chaotic time.
  • Supersmartsquirrel
    So glad you’re back Slowdown! Ada Limon’s voice is wonderful
  • Meta pelet
    Thank you for this gift
    I have often thought that these daily gems must take a lot of work. I appreciate your introductions to each prom so much; you are a wonderful guide. I now plan to find a collection of your work at my local indy bookstore.
  • Tayvallich
    The Slowdown is a Gift
    I’ll miss you Tracy K Smith. I look forward to your new poems and amazing voice in the world. Thank you for introducing me to poets I may have never found without you. You are a gift.
  • AEM2;-)
    Feeding people is loving people.
    Thank you, Tracy, for this poetry offering of love. I am grateful for these connections that I feel each day from the slowdown. Hearing your own and the other poets’ thoughts through your kind and gentle voice is a soothing balm for me these days. I will miss you, when your hiatus happens, and I only wish you peace and love in the coming days. 💕💕
  • MarianaDale
    Perfect lunch listen
    Much needed moments of peace, beauty and inspiration in my day.
  • WandaW
    A daily capsule to promote well-being
    Each episode is so beautifully introduced, the first time I listened I thought Tracy’s intro was the poem. I’m grateful to have the gems of these poems to enrich my life.
  • Oliver quid
    It’s a wonderful podcast.
  • ChillDP
    Love the daily words!
    Tracey is an American success story straight out of Fairfield! Go Falcons!!
  • Gwenivari
    So Good
    Five. Minutes. Beauty. Goodness. Truth. Five. Minutes. Beauty. Goodness. Truth. Repeat...
  • dorothy's ddufhter
    Awesomeness Comfort Courageous
    I am so grateful for your work product and positive purpose in this life thank you!
  • TLD 2
    Needed to hear the calm readings of others experiences in life and find hope and awareness for humanity today.
  • SweetPotato*78
    This podcast is simply everything. I love starting my day in the peace and ease of Tracy’s generous, honest, and wise commentary followed by the wide and deep poetry she shares. I return later in the afternoon - a long day lived with young children and home-keeping and good work only half-complete - and the words echo and hold me again. The Slow Down transcends and is a source that truly helps me re-ground, re-center, and re-member myself. I’m so grateful to have found it and so highly recommend.
  • Origami Girl
    A calm moment in my day
    There’s no substitute for a good guide. Tracy’s set up of each piece gives me a path by which to access a poem, with freedom to enjoy it for myself rather than trying to interpret a meaning. What a perfect vessel this is for delivering a poem each day.
  • Feaoifheag
    Lovely podcast
    Tracy K. Smith has the most wonderfully soothing voice. Her personalized intros are gift to the world as well. Not to mention the poetry, of course.
    A little sweetness in a time of so much hate. So welcome!
  • peninsula poet
    Wonderful poems, lovely voice, superb introductions.
  • monstrz
    The introductions are practically poems in themselves. The cadence of her voice is perfect for the readings, introductions insightful, and curation unimpeachable.
  • coolpen
    Poetry the way I want to consume it
    I used to love poetry but fell out of reading it. I already go to so many theatre events that attending more poetry events isn’t tenable. But hearing poetry read aloud is the best and that’s exactly what Tracy K Smith does so well in each day’s Slowdown episode. Thank you for letting us into your mind a bit and sharing these poems with us.
  • fizo!
    Amazing Podcast
    This short podcast is somehow both serene and invigorating, and it's is a joy to have one every day. I also really like the soft music at the beginning. Somehow it fits. :)
  • MurasakiFloof
    This is a warm space. And it’s full of lights. The conceit of this space is, it seems, to put the poem in the world. Not above it. The first minutes are about... life. The poem comes in only after the world is established. It’s worn not like a hat, but like something inward, held. A rib, a nerve, a bronchus. You’ll feel every moment. It’s so... cool! The Slowdown is steady and radiantly wrought.
  • Chabbi21
    I love this podcast but...
    The last two episodes have been cut off at less than a minute. Please fix this editing problem!
  • Daveiii
    Wonderful Poems and Host
    Tracy K Smith does so much in a ~5 minute podcast. Not only does she bring great poems from a wide range of poets, but her anecdotes and introductions are delightful. I can’t recommend the Slowdown enough
  • jmr1490
    Fantastic poetry podcast
    Absolutely love listening to this podcast.
  • Capnarlos7
    Start your day right...
    Fantastic podcast!
  • ivory Ivy
    I start my day with The Slowdown
    The quality of my life has changed for the better because of The Slowdown. There are so many levels to this, not the least of which is my writing. Passionate, musical, skillful verbal acts are now a daily presence in my life. I think you understand how much this means to me. Each introduction sets its poem up for admiration for always. And it’s lovely and helpful, in so many ways, to get to know Ms. Smith. One final thing: it was fun to hear Ms. Smith mention walking down DeKalb Avenue. I live off of DeKalb, across the street from the park. Baby sparrows are rising up as twittery groups right now and the black-eyed susans in many stages are still going strong. Bright brown dried leaves have been gathering on the horse chestnuts. it’s cool with almost September.
  • Trennebek
    Good poems, could use better production
    I like the poems and often want just to get to them, rather than hearing the stories Tracy tells from her life. The music is like something from a soft rock, adult contemporary station and really detracts from the show.
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